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Utah lawmakers honor Vietnam vets, other troops

Published: Friday, Feb. 22 2013 5:40 p.m. MST

Vietnam War veterans prepare to post the colors at the Capitol in Salt Lake City.on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013.   (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Vietnam War veterans prepare to post the colors at the Capitol in Salt Lake City.on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — There was an emotional break in the usual legislative proceedings Friday when lawmakers honored local Vietnam veterans and held an annual ceremony to honor fallen Utah soldiers in a year when none died.

More than a dozen Vietnam veterans stood at the front of both the House and Senate chambers as several lawmakers tearfully thanked them for their service and talked about their personal experiences during the war.

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, reflected on the hostility many Vietnam veterans faced when they returned home from the war.

"It was a time we weren't proud of," Mayne said, "but we are proud of you."

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, had to take a moment to gain his composure before he tearfully announced the passage of the HCR6, a resolution to recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, described how as a young solider returning to the United States, he was spit on and called a baby killer. That was hard, Greenwood said, especially since he was barely out of his teens. 

Lawmakers also paused for the annual ceremony to honor Utah's fallen soldiers and expressed gratitude that no Utah troops were lost in the past year.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to report that this year's count is zero," Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden said. "Not a single Utah soldier failed to return home after deployment."

During the ceremony, military personnel stood at attention in uniform as lawmakers honored the sacrifices of Utah's service members. After a video tribute to fallen soldiers and a moment of silence honoring the service members, the Senate gallery broke out into applause and a standing ovation celebrating the good news.

In the House, Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, sang verses of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and then led the representatives in singing "God Bless America."

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